Mixed reviews on Holocaust ice skating routine

Holocaust skating routine on Russian TV

TAMPA, Fla. --  Video from a Russian reality show showing an Olympic figure skater performing a routine with a Holocaust theme is getting a lot of attention across the world and in the Tampa Bay area. Some of you are calling the routine a slap in the face to survivors and victims of the Holocaust.

The clip shows two skaters wearing the  gold stars of David and striped uniforms resembling those that Jewish prisoners wore in concentrations camps.

One by one we showed the clip to people on the street to hear their reaction. Valentai Garcia described the ice skating routine as, "Interesting and beautiful."  Keith Khan disagrees. He says, "It's an insult to the Jewish people."  Nolan Weber says, "I don't see anything wrong with it." 

Some said it's appalling while others describe it as art. Tony Romero says, "I think it's fine. I think it's very theatrical."  Kiana Chung says, "I think it's fine."  Melissa Chung adds, 'I agree I don't see anything wrong with it."

 

 

Senior Rabbi Richard Birnholz from Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa watched the routine and says, "Without knowing the back story it would be terribly distasteful and upsetting for a Jew to watch."

The routine is supposed to be based on the 1997 movie "Life is Beautiful." It's about a father trying to shield his son from the reality of living in a concentration camp together. Rabbi Birnholz adds, "The boy is made to believe that everything going on around him is an adventure and from one moment to the next you never know where the adventure is going to take you. You miss the emphasis on the horror -- and it comes across as simply being a joyous ice skating event with twists and turns and jumps and throws and laughter."

Birnholz says the female skater says she created the routine to teach children about the Holocaust. He says there are better ways, like through their historic Torah that's 175 years old. Written in Hebrew it came from a synagogue the Nazi's destroyed. Birnholz says, "We have students chant part of the Torah."

He says as dire and as horrible as the Holocaust is making it into this type of art is like a slap in the face.
Birnholz says, "It normalizes the event and the Holocaust was anything but normal." It's personal for him too because his own father escaped from a concentration camp. He adds, "But his life was never the same. My dads life was never an ice skating event."

Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, released a statement about the ice skating routine: “While this performance is deeply unfortunate, it clearly came from good intentions to educate and remember the Holocaust. I am more concerned about the rise of antisemitic and racially-charged incidents that are taking place in our own country and the dangers of remaining silent in the face of racism and hate.”

 


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